Santa Clara Board of Supervisors considers building affordable housing for teachers

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A county-owned parking lot on Palo Alto's Grant Avenue could be the site of an affordable housing complex for teachers. Supervisor Joe Simitian proposed the idea to tackle the high cost of living and the teacher shortage.

Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to move forward with the idea, and seek a development partner.

"My hope is this will be a win-win," said Simitian. "We already know we have a housing crisis of unprecedented proportions but we also have a problem, frankly, attracting and retaining top quality teachers. And that's affecting the ability to get the job done at our schools."

The proposed site is just blocks away from a shopping district, the train station, and within close proximity of half a dozen school districts.

"I think it's absolutely a game changer," said Sarah Chaffin, founder of "It would allow the schools then to recruit and retain their teachers and it would improve the lives of our teachers and our community as a whole."

She says teachers in the Silicon Valley make too little to afford a home but too much to qualify for affordable housing.

Some commute hours just to get to class, others move away.

"Some of these teachers are actually homeless. They're sleeping in their cars and showering at the gym," said Chaffin.

Teri Baldwin is a former kindergarten teacher who is now the President of the Palo Alto Educators Association. She having a place nearby to call home would benefit both instructors and their students.

"Teachers really want to be part of the community that they serve so if you're commuting two hours, you can't stay to go to that basketball game of that students who needs that support. Or go to that school play. Or even stay late to tutor," said Baldwin.

The project is still in the very early stages. "You need three things to make a project like this go," said Simitian. "You need a piece of dirt, you need some money, and you need community support. We have the dirt. We own the site already so that makes life a little easier."
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